The latest driver to find this out is football manager Paul Peschisolido, who had his £30,000 Mercedes E-Class stolen from his driveway having left the keys in the ignition while he popped back in the house.
To add to his woes, if the car is not returned (or is damaged) he cannot make an insurance claim as he left the keys in the insecure car.
Sheepish Mr Peschisolido, manager of Championship soccer club Burton Albion, is expecting a “You’re fired” dressing down from his wife Karren Brady; one of Alan Sugar’s fearsome assessors on TV’s ‘The Apprentice’.
The luxury Mercedes was left unattended with the engine running to clear ice on the windscreen outside the couple’s home in near Solihull in the West Midlands. The two thieves jumped in and drove off, smashing through gates on the drive as Mr Peschisolido chased after them. He also lost a laptop computer that was in the car. Police are appealing for witnesses to the theft and for the return of the car and laptop.
The incident highlights the risks of leaving a car unattended and running while defrosting in the cold weather.
If motorists make a claim following a theft of the vehicle or for possessions stolen from inside, it’s likely a car insurance company will reject the claim because the driver was negligent in giving the thieves an opportunity to strike.
Most car insurance policies have a small print exclusion that tells motorists not to expect a pay out for theft or damage if the keys are left in the car; even if the doors are locked.
Some drivers have beaten this clause by appealing to the Financial Ombudsman if the insurer refuses a claim on the grounds the policy conditions did not sufficiently highlight the point.
Many insurance policies also have a limit on claims for replacing personal possessions stolen from a vehicle, or an excess that more or less negates the value of a claim.